Category Archives: 09.Controversy about the Schools pertaining to the Way of Tea-Rong-tsang Tsai

Rong-tsang Tsai。Controversy about the Schools pertaining to the Way of Tea

Controversy about the Schools pertaining to the Way of Tea-Rong-tsang Tsai

「茶道流派」的争议Controversy about the Schools pertaining to the Way of Tea

蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

2002.02《茶艺》月刊社论Published in “Tea Art”monthly magazine

Does China have its own ‘Way of Tea 1’? Are there different ‘schools 2’ pertaining to the ‘Way of Tea’? These are among the most asked questions. We would like to talk about the different ‘schools’ when it comes to the ‘Way of Tea’ and how these have come about. Further still, as for the different schools of thoughts in art (such as classicism, impressionism, cubism, surrealism), it is interesting to find out if the artists or scholars had come up with the name first (before the emergence of the works and ideology) or the other way around.

At an exhibition on the different ‘schools’ pertaining to the Way of Tea held during the annual programme of Taiwan’s Chinese Tea Federation 2001, 15 so-called ‘schools’ were invited to demonstrate tea-brewing and sampling. This is a very meaningful and inspiring, albeit controversial event.

First of all, what qualifies a certain practice as a school of thought? There are two simple answers to this: in the first instance, it is one if you think so – it is a matter of putting up a name (and whether the others think so is another matter altogether); in the second instance, there must be certain conditions, such as a complete and individual way of thinking and practice (again, whether this is adopted by the others is a different issue).

The next question is, will it require the society’s recognition? To some, a school of thought pertaining to the Way of Tea must be identified with – that is, there must be a certain number of followers to its ideology and methods. An individual or entity naming it so would be too hasty, wouldn’t it? On the other hand, some people think that establishing such a school of thought and practice is different from it being identified with; as such, we will risk making pre-mature judgement by denying others’ right.  Time and wisdom would be a better judge for the matter.

Furthermore, how does these ‘schools’ come about? Would it be a simple act of putting up a name under the bandwagon of a ‘school’, or would it be necessary for it to survive the test of time and secure a certain number of supports? Or, would it be necessary for it to be established or screened by a public body? To us, we think one that has been formed out of an individual initiative is just as fine as one that has been formed and evolved over time. For the former, there would be a conducive environment for growth; as for the latter, recognition will be strong as it is given when the thoughts and practices are well in place.

Lastly, should we encourage formation of different ‘schools’ of the Way of Tea? Sure, we would say. This will fuel the vibrant development of the tea culture. Given the support of a sound basis in thinking and theories, which grows naturally into a unique style, this is encouraged – as long as it is not just for the sake of a name. Even if there was no intention for such a ‘school’ to be formed, the natural development of a certain style will justify its status as a ‘school’. We will go so far as to say, this is the healthier way of development.  Looking back at the history of art, impressionism, cubism and the like are grown out of this natural emergence of a style, rather than names declared by artists.

以下为文內之编码Coding in the text:

茶道1 Way of Tea 1

流派2  schools 2


The aesthetics, character and the state of mind created are not to be undermined in the understanding and enjoyment of tea; and yet, they are the hardest to express.  Writings on the thoughts pertaining to tea, regardless of languages used, remain scarce.   We have attempted to express them in Chinese, with accompanying English translation(Translator:Katherine Yip.2010.01), to elaborate our thoughts as they are. What we want is to share the knowledge of tea alongside tea drinking.  This is, in our opinion, an important contemporary task in promoting the tea culture (Coding in the text is for cross-referencing of the academic terms of tea).